Le Cong Tang’s Buddhist Sculptures Go Separate Ways at Hanhai Hong Kong Sale

“Le Cong Tang” has made a name for itself after a Ru-ware brush washer from its collection was sold for a record-shattering price of US$37.7m. Alongside with the world’s most expensive ceramic, some Buddhist sculptures also went to auction this fall.

Hanhai Hong Kong secured two Buddhist sculptures from Le Cong Tang collection, which went separate ways with completely different sale results. A figure of Raktayamari from 15th century Tibet was hammered down at HK$11.5m (US$1.5m), far exceeding its estimate of HK$4.6m-5.5m (US$600,000-720,000). On the other hand, a figure of Marici from Yongle period in Ming dynasty, also from the Le Cong Tang collection, surprisingly went unsold.

Robert Tsao (Cao Xingcheng), prominent collector and master of Le Cong Tang

Raktayamari (“the Red Enemy of Death”) is a Tantric Buddhist meditational deity which is a wrathful form of Bodhisattva Manjushri or Yamantaka. The gilt-copper figure from the 15th century Tibet is adorned with a crown of five dry skulls.

The bidding of this figure started at HK$4m with a bid increment of HK$500,000. The bidding atmosphere was mild at the beginning until the price reached HK$7m. Two gentlemen in the room fought over it by offering higher bids alternatively. The figure was hammered down at HK$11.5m, (US$1.5m), far exceeding its estimate of HK$4.6m-5.5m (US$600,000-720,000). It was sold to a gentleman in black for HK$14m (US$1.8m) including buyer’s premium.

For your information, the above thangka was sold for a sky-high price to a famous Shanghai collector Liu Yiqian. The Buddhist deity depicted on that thangka is also Raktayamari.

The leading lot, a figure of Marici incised with a mark of Yongle period in Ming dynasty, carried an opening bid of HK$13m. Surprisingly, with no sequent bid followed, the lot ended up unsold.

Two other Buddhist sculptures were also hammered down at HK$10m (US$1.3m). The first one was a 25-cm tall figure of Vajrasattva from 18th Mongolia. It carried an estimate of HK$8.8m-10m (US$1.15m-1.3m) and was sold to an absentee bidder.

Another figure was a copper alloy figure of Padmapani from 11th century Guge, Tibet. It carried an estimate of HK$8m-10m (US$1.05m-1.3m) and was sold to a telephone bidder.

Estimated at HK$6.8m-8.8m (US$890,000 - 1.12m), a white marble screen depicting Sogdian aristocrats from the Northern Zhou Dynasty (AD 557-581) was withdrawn.


Leading lots (sorted by estimates from high to low)

Ming Palace, Yongle period, Ming dynasty.

Lot no.: 318
Height: 19.5cm
Provenance: Collection of Le Cong Tang
Estimate: HK$13,000,000 - 16,000,000

Mongolia, Zanabazar.18th century.

Lot no.: 310
Height: 25cm

  • Collection of Mr. Edward O'Neil, acquired in Hong Kong in the early 1990's

Estimate: HK$8,800,000 - 10,000,000
Hammer price: HK$10,000,000
Price realized: HK$11,850,000

Guge, Tibet, China, Kashmir style. 11th century.

Lot no.: 338
Height: 68cm
Estimate: HK$8,000,000 - 10,000,000
Hammer price: HK$10,000,000
Price realized: HK$11,850,000

A White Marble Screen Depicting Sogdian Aristocrats
The Northern Zhou Dynasty (AD 557-581)

Lot no.: 341
Size: 78 x 52 x 11cm
Provenance: Private Asian Collection
Estimate: HK$6,800,000 - 8,800,000

Tibet, China. 15th century

Lot no.: 319
Height: 28cm

  • Old collection from Philip Goldman.
  • Old collection from Rossi & Rossi.
  • Now a collection of Le Cong Tang.

Estimate: HK$4,600,000 - 5,500,000
Hammer price: HK$11,500,000
Price realized: HK$13,620,000

Auction details
Auction house: Hanhai Auction (Hong Kong)
Sale: The Merciful Buddha III
Venue: Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
No. of lots: 41
Auction time: 2017/10/5|6:30pm

(All prices realized have included buyer’s premium unless otherwise specified)